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An Unfriendly System for the Disconnected Individual

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    Xbox One

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    An Unfriendly System for the Disconnected Individual

    An Unfriendly System for the Disconnected Individual

    Ah, Microsoft. One of the most storied and longest-running companies in home computing. Surely, with their thirty-plus years of experience in the industry, they can use their technical know-how and expertise to create the ultimate gaming console.

    …Is the Xbox One truly the "Ultimate Gaming Console" that Microsoft touts it to be? Well, that’s why I’m here. I’m going to split this review up into several sections: General Aesthetics, Controller, User Interface, Games, Features, Graphics, and Online, and then we’ll wrap up with an overview. So, with that out of the way, let’s get started.


    At the risk of uttering an oft-said joke from an earlier hardware generation: This thing is huge. This thing takes up a lot of space on the average person’s entertainment center, especially if you sprung for a Kinect. I opted to not purchase one of these devices, seeing as I feel uncomfortable having what is essentially HAL 9000 sitting under my TV set, and as such it, along with any added functionality because of it, will not be factored into this review.

    All joking aside, the Xbox One looks good. It certainly looks the part of "the ultimate entertainment system": Its sleek, futuristic design is complemented by its bold lines. However, half of the system has a glossy surface that seems to attract dust and fingerprints like a magnet. Neat freaks, be advised.


    Overall, the Xbox One Gamepad is a big improvement over its predecessor’s. The buttons are big, the analog sticks respond well to your manipulation, and the Impulse Triggers are a nice touch. The D-pad is probably the biggest improvement; you no longer have to worry about having it misread your attempted input. If you press Down, you press Down, not Left.

    However, the Triggers are a little on the large side; they fender out and around the contour of the controller, so accidental presses are possible. Also, the Home button has been moved towards the front of the controller, making instant access a little difficult. But, these are small complaints against the massive improvements.


    The original XBox One UI reminds one of the tile-based setup from Windows 8/8.1, which, if it’s something you’re used to, is almost second nature. However, with a recent hardware update, the system sports a new UI. In this reviewer’s opinion, the update is an improvement. The system menus no longer feel cluttered.


    Quick question for you: What is the meat of a game system? If you said anything other than "games", leave now, and make sure the door doesn’t hit you on the way out.

    So, at the time of this revision (May 2016), we have quite a few games to choose from, which is good. Titles like "Call of Duty: Black Ops III", "Quantum Break", "Fallout 4", and "Halo 5: Guardians" bring a base for the system to stand on. New releases for the system have helped it tremendously, as do upcoming exclusive releases:: "Cuphead", "ReCore", "Sea of Thieves", and "Scalebound", all of which are slated to be available within the next year, give players something looking for something other than a shooter something to look forward to.

    The games with physical copies are baked onto a Blu-Ray disc, allowing for some impressive-looking vistas or truly epic-length games. Unfortunately, the system requires you to install each and every one of them, which sit around 25 to 50 gigabytes EACH, to your hard drive. Why they force you to do so, I cannot say, but doing so will fill your hard drive before you can say, "Where did all my space go!?" So, if you plan on purchasing a good number of games, either spring for a larger internal hard drive, or opt for a decent external drive.


    As Microsoft touts the Xbox One as the "Ultimate Entertainment Console", they made sure to allow for various media options. When you’re not playing games, you can browse the Internet, listen to music, watch videos on YouTube, play Blu-Ray DVDs, access Netflix and Hulu, and more. Unfortunately, you have to install much of that to your hard drive after you set up the system; it’s not immediately available, not even Blu-Ray playback. I will come back to the online aspect later, so please: Read on.


    The Xbox One is capable of 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, giving the player a crisp, smooth picture. Compared to its predecessor, it’s a big step forward. The extra horsepower under the hood, combined with a larger storage medium, allows for a level of detail previously unobtainable on an Xbox system. Though, if you make your decisions based solely upon how many wrinkles your system can render on a single old man’s face, you may be making your decision for entirely the wrong reasons. Be sure to read through "Games", above.


    Oh, boy, this isn’t good. The Xbox One is built primarily around the fact that you have a stable, sufficiently-fast Internet connection in your home. While a majority of homes (roughly 78% in 2013, when the system was initially relased) do indeed have high-speed Internet at home, there are still some households that, for whatever reason, don’t have such a connection. Herein lies the problem: The folks at Microsoft didn’t keep the minority in mind when developing this console.

    Time for a history lesson: Remember back when the Xbox One was announced, and they said you had to have it hooked up to the Internet to be able to use it? As in, always hooked up? That little tidbit nearly killed the system before it even left the starting gate. Now, you only need Internet for initial setup, which is still a pain, but you don’t need to be connected all the time just to play your games. Great, except if you want to earn Achievements at all.

    You need an Internet connection if you want to earn, or even look at, your Achievements, even when you play a game that has little to no online functionality. Also, if you’re one of those individuals without Internet access, and you want to play a brand new game, your system may require another system update, which requires you to cart your system back to a friend’s house just to get the likely inconsequential sequential update it needs to play your brand new game. The 360 had not one problem keeping track of how many bear pelts you collected, or which campaign levels you had finished, so I fail to understand why the One has such an issue with it. Beware Internet outages, because if you’re one of those who utilizes cloud saving, you’re out of commission until you get it back.


    Have you ever heard the phrase, "When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME."? It has never rung true more when it comes to the Xbox One. What was designed as the system’s biggest draw can easily become its greatest flaw. By assuming that the owner has an Internet connection at home, making the Internet an integral part of the system instantly cripples it by any little hiccup in your connection, or lack of a connection in general.

    So, is the Xbox One the "Ultimate Gaming Console"? It certainly makes a good effort in doing so, provided you have a solid broadband connection and a fairly wide bandwidth. Is it worth your time? Possibly.

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